If you needed yet another example of the shaky ground Paid media platforms find themselves on you need look no further that the Football World Cup, playing out in South Africa as we speak. Traditionally, the headline sponsor of the Cup itself has bought itself an unassailable platform on which to push its product messages. FIFA protected the brand inside the stadia and ferociously chased down any brand foolish enough to mention their trademarks, let alone show an image of the Cup itself. When you ask US$351 Million for an exclusive property, keeping it that way kind of comes with the territory.
Last time the comms press spoke about how effective the cage soccer, or horizontal football billboards that Nike had rolled out had been in terms of hijacking the event. It was great content, sure, but the numbers didn’t mean it seriously competed with the event and its title sponsor. Even a chink in the armour was seen as a success.
But as I said, that was last time. This time things seem very different. A local survey by media buying agency MEC indicated that Nike had 17 percent recall as a sponsor of the event, Adidas, who shelled out the money, came in at only 15 percent. Leveraging sponsorships outside of the games, their physical locations and the licensed broadcast content is where the real benefits reside from a brand perspective. Both brands have invested in their online presences, but Nike is the clear winner in more than just brand recall when you look at what they’ve actually put up.
First, the Quest, from Adidas.
Now, Write the Future, from Adidas.
I think the big difference here is that Adidas has created advertising, the product shots seem almost gratuitous, especially on the third time through, It seems more about the brand that any emotion. Anticipation of something coming maybe, but not something I’m going to talk breathlessly about around the watercooler.
The Nike spot in comparison could have been written by a PR company. It is the beautiful game at its most noteworthy. The slowmo isn’t there to amplify the swoosh, its there to make you ache for the strike that’s coming next. It has stars from a wide range of nations. The real genius is of course the fat Rooney in the caravan cooking beans and painting the third division lines on a grim park somewhere in England. This unbelievable moment, with a little bit of internet meme in the form of Ronaldo on the Simpsons takes it over the top. No wonder then, that it has garnered 16,000,000 views to Adidas’s 200,000.
Building Content that Earns Attention.
The approach that has been used to develop the Nike content above is one many brands could learn from. I think we all agree that the days of telling the public a message that you decide are fast fading. Channel Proliferation and online clutter means that you story has to tick four very important boxes.
- Be Noteworthy. You have to include an element of note if you expect people to pay attention. If it’s something brand new, great. The fact you’re now selling a pink one probably doesn’t cut it. Surprise people if you can, even better if you can make them laugh or feel something inside their heart. Show something that hasn’t been seen before. The world probably does not need another flashmob.
- Know you audience and build stories for them. Understand that the success of what you are doing depends on the audience liking the story enough to retell it or pass it along their networks. In jokes are great.
- Be shareable. Build content and stories on platforms that make sharing as easy as possible. One more retelling is of value to you as a brand, why would you create a barrier to this happening?
- Be relevant. There has to be a strong connection between your brand, the sponsorship and what you’ve created.
Now, Adidas did realise they needed a “cooler” piece of film to compete in the transmedia space and earn them some coverage. Here’s what they came out with:
It’s almost like a few people got together and said “Star Wars is popular online, so is Snoop and we’ve got Becks, some Mancs, Daft Punk and that other guy. Let’s put all that together.” It’s kind of funny, but I don’t think it really ticks those four boxes. Maybe if Snoop had his arms chopped off, Becks was shot and the end had Jabba on the sideline at the World Cup. maybe.